Surveillance camera turns Williamsburg sidewalk into catwalk

The Brooklyn Paper
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Who’s the best dressed on N. Seventh Street? Is it the hipster girl with the black jeans, Capezios, and slow-slung top? Or the dapper man in the brown three-piece suit with the matching green-and-brown shoes and tie?

These are the questions posed by Styleblaster, a fashion blog started when four hipsters began pointing a surveillance camera out the front window of their Williamsburg apartment last Tuesday.

The camera has a motion sensor that snaps a picture whenever a passerby walks into the frame from right to left — then immediately posts the image to faster than Louboutins at a Barney’s sample sale.

Co-creator Mary Burford came up with the automated style blog after fashion-minded street photographers repeatedly stopped to take pictures of her outfits in her previous hometown of Chicago.

“I guess it’s because I’m taller and dress weird,” said Burford.

When she moved to Brooklyn and got an apartment one block from the hipster fashion mecca that is Bedford Avenue, she decided to turn her sidewalk into a catwalk — and unwitting Williamsburgers into models — by putting a camera in her window.

“Williamsburg has an identity that lends itself to the concept,” said Burford.

Looking at the outfits is only half the fun — the site also lets users judge the street styles of passersby by clicking a top hat–shaped icon to show their approval.

There’s no way to vote down less fashionable outfits and no room for visitors to leave comments — decisions that were quite deliberate, according to co-creator Jules Laplace.

“We don’t want to open these people up to ridicule. There’s enough of that on the web. People have no filter when they go online,” said Laplace, who agreed to speak with The Brooklyn Paper on the condition that we withhold the exact location of the camera (it’s within two blocks of the Bedford L train station, but that’s all we can tell you).

But the surveillance-minded fashionistas say city streets are fair game for website fodder, especially in a place where people often rock such over-the-top and ironic styles.

“Williamsburg is a place where people come to be seen,” said Laplace. “People aren’t standing out in front of the Salvation Army just because they don’t have anything to do.”

Some passersby have figured out the location of the camera and there’s been some photobombing, but most of the website’s models stroll past unaware.

Kathy Cherry, who was wearing skinny jeans, knee-high boots, and a large shoulder bag when she unknowingly posed for the camera, approved of Styleblaster’s concept — as long as the site doesn’t “lambast” anyone.

In a way, she thinks the site has more to do with wildlife photography than fashion photography.

“It’s kind of like our version of the Hawk Cam,” said Cherry. “It’s our Shark Cam.”

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Reader Feedback

JohnnyB from Wburg says:
This is a clear invasion of privacy and I have heard there will be a cease and desist from the city with possible heavy fines.
Oct. 29, 2012, 10:13 am
jay from pslope says:
ummm if you are being serious johhny, no its not its public space and you have no reasonable expectation of privacy, having said that, this is just more lameness from willimasburg, and why the Brooklyn paper thinks this is a story is beyond me, and I am mad that I bothered to read it.
Oct. 29, 2012, 11:30 am
This is just plain lame. Maybe we should set up a camera in the closet public toilet to see who has the most fashionable turds.
Oct. 29, 2012, 6:32 pm
Rocco from Park Slope says:
That's exactly what this is...
Oct. 30, 2012, 7:49 am

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